Hearing From the “Hook-Up” Generation

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A recent article in Time Magazine focuses on the so-called “hook-up culture,” which has become a subject of much concern and debate. Particularly from older Americans who graduated from college a while ago. Now, the students and twenty-something are speaking out.

The writer of the Time article complained about the media coverage of a college professor in Boston named Kerry Cronin, who requires her students to go on a “real date” as part of their class credit. “No thanks,” the writer says in her article, “I’m here to inform that professor that we 20-somethings don’t need help, thank you very much.”

She goes on to reference statistics to disprove that hook-up culture is an epidemic, citing less than 15% of college students have more than two hook-ups per year. Also, “hooking up” means anything from sharing a kiss to having sex, so the lines are a little blurry as to how much people are engaging in risky behavior.

She also argues that it’s much more natural to socialize with people and get to know them in groups and at parties where it feels more organic, rather than over coffee and forced conversation. While she makes good points, she also admits that it is easier for her generation to hide behind a screen, especially when it comes to being rejected. Text is the preferred method of interacting, rather than asking someone out face-to-face as Professor Cronin argues they should.

Her points are valid, but there is definitely room for improvement. While college students (at least in the past couple of generations) have engaged in a higher level of casual sex and hook-ups than at other times in their lives, there does seem to be a shift in college students’ thinking today. Because they are attached to their smartphones, pulling them out at parties or in dorm rooms instead of engaging with the people sitting next to them, they aren’t really learning how to be alone together, to engage in conversation without distraction. This doesn’t help them learn to communicate better in relationships.

Also, there is the drinking that goes on at college. Much of the hooking up takes place after indulging at parties, which means people aren’t making the best decisions when it comes to their bodies.

But does all this mean they aren’t prepared for dating?

I think that college provides a good backdrop for learning how to interact and flirt. There are plenty of single, available people who you have something in common with – which likely you wouldn’t encounter again. So why not experiment with dating in a group setting, among your friends?

All of the formal asking out will happen once they graduate. And even then, hook-up culture exists in even more removed ways – through dating apps like Tinder. Dating is still part of growing up, no matter how you try to avoid the particulars.